A plan by the state of Nebraska to comply with a 76-year-old interstate water compact would divert water from one of its rivers to another, which then flows into Kansas.
Kansas, however, has its objections.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has objected to the plan because, it says, invasive species such as Asian carp and white perch would move from diverted Platte River waters down a channel to the Republican River, which doesn’t have those species.
KDWPT said if invasive species enter the Republican River and reach Kansas, they could find homes in the Milford and Lovewell reservoirs. Those species cause long-lasting harm to their new bodies of water by leading to the decline of popular species of sportfish. (Asian carp can also cause headaches for humans by leaping out of the water when boats pass.)
Milford is one of the state’s top spots for catfish and bass.
Kansas is all for Nebraska boosting the amount of water in the Republican, to come into compliance with the compact that guarantees percentages of water to each state, plus Colorado. Just keep the invasive species.
But Nebraska’s Games and Parks Commission says it’s not aware that invasive species populate the Platte River in the area where the water would be diverted by about 25 miles of canals and culverts.
Nebraska is trying to avoid paying more Supreme Court-ordered restitution for overuse of the Republican. Nebraska was ordered to pay Kansas $5.5 million in 2005 and 2006.
Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has objected to the water-diversion plan in a letter to the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, and Kansas residents have until Thursday to write the agency with concerns.
If Nebraska lawmakers approve the plan, Kansas doesn’t seem to have any recourse. But the plan could be unpopular in Nebraska, too, since water diverted from the Platte could deplete one of the Midwest’s top migration areas for sandhill cranes.